National: Voting Machines: A National Security Vulnerability? | Atlantic Council

The political instability that has resulted from Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections has put the focus on voting machines as a national security vulnerability, Douglas Lute, a former US permanent representative to NATO, said at the Atlantic Council on October 10. “I don’t think I’ve seen a more severe threat to American national security than the election hacking experience of 2016,” said Lute. There is a “fundamental democratic connection between the individual voter and the democratic outcome” of an election, he said, adding: “If you can undermine that, you don’t need to attack America with planes and ships. You can attack democracy from the inside.” … Lute delivered a keynote address at the Atlantic Council to call for a sense of urgency among policymakers and all stakeholders able to play a role in the solution to insecure voting machines. He also highlighted the findings presented in the DEF CON Report on Cyber Vulnerabilities in US Election Equipment, Databases, and Infrastructure, launched at the Council, which help to shed light on the technological dimensions of this national security threat. Ultimately, as Lute writes in the foreword, “this report makes one key point: our voting systems are not secure.”

… A number of the experts who will be involved in the process joined Lute at the Atlantic Council. Harri Hursti, founding partner at Nordic Innovation Labs and one of the organizers of the DEF CON Voting Village; Jeff Moss, founder of DEF CON and a nonresident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative; Sherri Ramsay, senior adviser to the chief executive officer at CyberPoint International; and John Gilligan, chairman of the board at the Center for Internet Security, participated in a panel discussion to elaborate on the technical vulnerabilities which have escalated to a national security threat. They furthered this idea by presenting lessons learned from DEF CON’s 2017 Voting Village, a convention designed to allow hackers to test the vulnerabilities in the US voting system.

According to Hursti, the greatest takeaway from the Voting Village was the demonstrated vulnerabilities of the outdated technology used to safeguard US democracy. “Every voting machine we have is hackable,” he said, and participants at DEF CON swiftly proved his point, hacking and manipulating machines within minutes. Hursti described how attempts to raise the alarm on the vulnerabilities of voting machines were frequently met with the rebuttal that hacking may be possible, but it takes time, and too much to pose a real threat. However, he said, it has been demonstrated that this is not the case.

Full Article: Voting Machines: A National Security Vulnerability?.

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